Chinese Hoax: Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest 10k and Little River Canyon Half Marathon

I’ve been around for over a half century and I saw something this week I’ve never seen before: 100 degree temperatures in October. Granted I lived most of those years in New York and Massachusetts where triple digit temps were relatively rare any time of year, but I also lived here in the south for 20 years including 15 years in South Florida. Now I don’t want to conflate the current temperature and broader weather trends the way the climate deniers do every time there is a blizzard in the winter, but it sure seems to me like things are getting hotter. Indeed record high temperatures for October were set in 80 US cities this past week. And 97% of legitimate climate scientists agree that global warming is real, not an elaborate hoax by the Chinese government to make America less competitive, as claimed by the climate denier in chief.
Another scientific fact that few experts dispute is the effect heat has on running. According to “At 60 degrees, running pace is influenced by a 2- to 3-percent increase, so an average 8-minute mile pace jumps to 8:12 per mile. At 80 degrees, the effect is between 12 to 15 percent, so that mile pace becomes about 9:06.” Runners Connect even has a handy tool that can help you estimate the effect heat will have on your run here and I’ve used that to help me feel a little better about my record slow times in races the past 2 weeks.
Rahr & Sons is a brewery in Ft. Worth Texas that has held an Oktoberfest 5k for the past 9 years. In 2019 they added a 10k to celebrate the 10th anniversary and I figured since I was going to Dallas for the weekend this might be a fun race. After all there was going to a polka band, free beer, free bratwurst and a free pint glass for participants. Even though I don’t drink anymore it was just the type of event I could never resist so although it was likely to be hot I signed right up.
On race day I actually won the old man age group but don’t let that fool you. It was the slowest and probably stupidest 10k I have ever run. Think of all the platitudes you’ve heard about running a race: nothing new on race day, bank = bonk, run your race according to the conditions. I ignored them all.
Race time weather conditions were sunny, 77 degrees and 73% humidity. Despite that, I went out at 7:45 and 7:51 for the first 2 miles, way faster than my 8:15 typical 10k pace. There had been a cooler stretch in September when I managed multiple sub 8:00 3 mile runs in a week for the first time in several years so I was feeling bullish about my capacity. But by mile 4 I was walk/running a 10k for the first time. To make matters worse I drank a big ol’ cup of coffee before the race, which I never do, and it wasn’t long before I was battling the diuretic effects, adding to the misery of the hot sun and exhaustion. I dragged my butt across the finish line at 54:54 for a pace of 8:51. It was my slowest ever 10k and about 36 seconds per mile above my average. Needless to say I was upset with my complete mismanagement of the race, but according to Runners Connect I was only 8 seconds per mile above where I should have expected to be based on the heat. And if that didn’t make me feel better the post-race band The Dogensteins polka rendition of “Have a Cigar” made everything alright.
I was determined to run a smarter race yesterday when I participated in my 3rd Little River Canyon Half Marathon and to the extent I was able to run the entire way and didn’t feel like death I did. But according to the hot weather pace calculator I actually ran a worse race. My average half marathon pace is 8:43 and based on the 77 degree temp and 59% humidity I should have finished with a pace of 9:03. Instead I finished in 2 hours and just about 4 minutes, a pace of 9:27. That’s 24 seconds a mile slower than the heat adjusted pace and 6 total minutes slower than the last time I ran this race. Not good.
No matter the weather the Little River Canyon Half Marathon, featuring 1,700 feet of elevation gain, is a challenge. It is also quite scenic. Miles 1-5 are spent running undulating hills along the rim of the canyon. By mile 6 through about 11 you’re mostly running uphill through farmland with a bit of a downhill halfway through. The end of the run involves a mildly nerve wracking stretch on the shoulder of a highway before finally crossing over and running uphill to the finish in front of the nature center. Afterwards there’s typically some pizza and other snacks for the runners before the awards. The field is pretty small for this race and the age groups are in 10 year increments which makes it a little harder to place. I don’t know if I did or not because we left right after the race this year, and the hand tabulated results have yet to be posted
I’ve run several pretty hot races in a row now and I’ve got to say that I’m looking forward to racing in some cooler weather when I won’t have to rely on the heat calculator to feel ok about my times. Longer term I hope that despite all the evidence to the contrary global warming really is just a hoax by the Chinese so there will always be plenty of cooler days for racing. I can only play the “but the heat” card so many times before I have to admit I’m just older and slower.

2 thoughts on “Chinese Hoax: Rahr & Sons Oktoberfest 10k and Little River Canyon Half Marathon

  1. You can ALWAYS play the heat card.

    Ouch, coffee right before a race. That definitely does not sound fun. Hopefully, we are all out of the woods with freak high temperatures.


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